A former environmental educator, Vanessa Sancho found in the Canary Island of La Palma the place to delve deep into herself and acknowledge her calling as a curator: that of holding space for beauty in the world.
Now Vanessa integrates her passion for life, her innate creativity, her life experience, and a high-sensitivity, multipotentialite personality to explore other ways to help us see, feel and reconnect with the beauty that is inside and all around us.
Vanessa dwells online in Viviendo el Cambio (Living the Change) and now is working on a multidisciplinary project, StoryStellArt 2016.
Carrie: Welcome to Artist Strong Vanessa, tell us about your creative interests.
Oh, they are so many. I’ve got the feeling that after half a life nearly edging myself out of it there are lots of things I want to explore. Writing, acting, dancing, storytelling, cooking, painting, knitting, taking photos… maybe they are the ones I am most familiar with, and even though I still feel like a beginner most of the time.
I hope to remain this way always, so I will go on learning and enjoying this sense of playful awe and wonder forever and ever. 😉 There are things like pottery, or jewelry design, or drumming that also get my attention, so I probably will be messing with them soon. Nevertheless, I know that being creative shows up in all aspects of my life, including how I solve problems, arrange the table for dinner, and even organize an event.
From a “professional” perspective, I am interested in the arts as a way to express, to communicate, to heal, to touch another’s soul, whether in the form of a calendar, an art-therapy session, a beautifully designed guided nature walk, a ritual of grounding and connection, a poem. I keep on exploring.
Carrie: When did you first realize the arts were an important part of your life?
Always? As I child I loved to draw and paint, as many of us do. My mom painted when I was a kid, so it felt natural. My grandpa also loved to take photos, and my grandma was fond of books and stories. I drank down all of it.
When they first took me to dance classes (even though I had asked to go to karate instead!), I absolutely loved the movement and the rhythm. I was an only child so I entertained myself imagining, reading, drawing, building, collaging. It felt so me.
Then something happened, and this wide array of creative display started to narrow down and became sparse as time went by. Growing up, going to school, leaving my childhood paradise of weekends and holidays in nature, feeling strange and rejected and hiding in my head, the safe haven of my intelligence, I moved away from my creativity.
High school was more logical mind and less about creativity. They told me I scored so high in tests I had to take a major, go to college, you know. All of the rest are hobbies, nonsense, and I believed them. As I started college my father died and what was already frail definitely broke down.
It’s been twenty years of letting my creative self emerge from time to time to breathe before she sank down again. Its like the story Soul skin, Seal skin in Women Who Run with the Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estés. Now I am just in the process of recovery and I still block myself many times. Anyway, too late doesn’t exist. 🙂
Carrie: Can you describe your Kickstarter-like project to Artist Strong readers?
The aim of the crowdfunding campaign is to print at least 1000 high-quality eco-edited copies of StorySTellArt 2016, a calendar that integrates art, stories and cosmic events.
There was a first edition in 2014 with my pastel paintings of galaxies and nebula, it was a great success. This holds special truth to me because the island where I live has one of the best starry skies in the world!
This year I am in the process of updating the project, so it takes us one step forward in order to reconnect with cyclical time. Everything used integrates and communicates on different levels this concept of ourselves as cyclical beings embedded in a cyclical universe. It starts with the design and goes all through the way to how the days are displayed, the stories and paintings chosen and the colours.
Carrie: What motivated your desire to create this project?
After ending up exhausted with StoryStellArt 2014, where I was creating the calendar AND running the crowdfunding campaign at the same time, I had decided that it was a one-time project, no more. But many people asked me for the calendar when as we approach this coming year.
I am also involved in the areas of inner work, deep ecology, storytelling and the like. Last December, as I was participating in a collective exhibition with my Solar System paintings, I felt the pull to create a second version of it but with a twist.
In fact, this twist is something that I need to remember also, because we teach what we most need to learn. The same cycles I experience in my body as a woman, with ebbs and flows (and this also applies to creativity), also shows up up everywhere here on Earth and up in the skies: the passing of the seasons, the moon phases, night and day, the time when the plants offer their fruits, the time when the birds lay their eggs…
It’s a challenge to digest all of this information and then try to display it so you end up with something beautiful. It is a useful hanging on your wall all year long and at the same time it communicates to you so many things related to the cycles, even unconsciously. I love a good challenge!
Carrie: What do you hope people get out of your finished project?
Beauty. Simplicity. Inspiration. Play. Awareness. A yearning for going outside to bask in the sun, gaze to the stars, listen to the birds, and feel the rhythm of life pulsing through their veins.
See, smell, touch the changes that surround us as our home journeys its way around our star another year. Let our bodies, our energy, our creativity, align and flow with that again as they are wired to do.
Stop pretending that everything has to remain equal: same weather, same temperature, same fruits and vegetables, same mood. Accept that this cycle of birth-evolution-death and rebirth is absolutely intrinsic and vital to the whole Universe.
All of it is disguised as something so “daily life” as a calendar.
Carrie: Do you have any advice for creatives who want to use crowdfunding?
You have to be prepared to invest lots of time and energy there, everybody tells you so. What they don’t usually tell you is that you will probably find yourself confronted with all the expectations, fears, doubts, insecurities and the like that maybe lurking beneath your conscious façade.
You are showing up out there in the open. Perhaps the project is crowdfunded successfully, or not. If you don’t reach your goal the very first days, prepare to be humble and learn, not just about how crowdfunding campaigns are run (community, sharing the love, timing, storytelling), but of courage, perseverance, letting go of control, and above all, caring and loving yourself through all of the out-there energy consuming process.
I read this article recently, and what resonated with me the most is that however the crowdfunding goes, I am all in with the project. It’s something that I can’t not do. And I hope it goes the same way with you, because that will mean your heart and your soul are behind it. That’s what the world really needs right now!
Carrie: How does your life experience and emotional state feed into your art?
How does not? Seriously. That’s why you’ll always have a unique voice, because you are unique, your life experience and how you respond to it is unique.
Everything I have gone through, my passions, my values, all end up coming forward in what I create, sometimes in a quiet tune, sometimes stronger. It doesn’t matter whether I write, paint, take photos, act, or dance. Emotions fuel all of that.
I cannot create in a numb state. There has to be something inside my heart asking to show up through my art. It’s art for the sake of life, coming from love and grief. It’s love for all the beauty of the cosmos. It’s grief for our learned ability to not see, feel, sense, embrace it with our whole hearts and souls.
Carrie: What has been something that has surprised you about this project?
Creativity can unfold, display and show up in so many and unexpected ways. That I am more creative and beauty-sensitive that I have ever (in my adulthood) thought. That I keep on learning, about both inside and outside worlds during the process. Perseverance is key.
Carrie: What strategies do you use to help yourself when you feel “stuck?”
Stop. Rest. Dance. Walk. Be in nature, it doesn’t matter if it’s my garden or into the wild. Disconnect so I can reconnect. And create.
Most of the time I don’t feel “stuck,” I am blocking myself somehow instead. There is a resistance there. Sometimes it helps to be with this resistance, to ask her what she needs and listen. To feel her. To take care of her.
Sometimes it’s fear. Sometimes your energy is low because you are fed up with worries and to-do’s. Sometimes it’s that the medium you have chosen consciously is not the same one creativity wants to flow through right at this time. Maybe she needs a little dancing, or body painting, or cooking, or building a stone wall with delicacy and zen-like attitude.
Perhaps later on you can go back to the canvas or the pen and paper and she will be there with you again, joyful and eager to offer herself to the world through you.
Carrie: Who/what inspires you?
Life. All life. The cosmos. Stories: ancient and new. What I feel and sense. Lots of books and films and other people’s creations. Beauty. Passionate women and men who live caring for the Earth. (There are lots of them, but not enough yet!) Some are artists, some ecologists, some healers, educators… all of them change-makers, change-inspirers.
Carrie: What is one creative resource you can’t live without?
Right now, I always keep a small notepad on my bed table, just because. It’s been very useful when ideas come my way in the middle of the night. Another one travels with me in my handbag. For me it works better to sketch up ideas, projects first the classical way, by hand. So pen, pencils, markers are much needed too! When it comes to painting, pastels are number one for me right now.
Besides lots of books, online I am in love with Pinterest. I use it for inspiration, saving great websites, videos, and resources. It is a wonderfully woven, creative space.
Carrie: How do you define Creativity?
The main force that fuels a Universe in continuous evolution: eager to explore, be born, evolve, die and be born again.
Creativity expresses itself throughout all life in joyful abundance, including ourselves (when we let her, of course). Everybody is creative because everything is creative. It’s how we are alive and thrive.
BE COURAGEOUSLY CREATIVE: Have you considered more than your artist-practice as a form of creativity? How else does creativity show up in your life? I want to know! Tell me about it in the comments below.
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